Last night’s stunning win for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire certainly allowed some of her campaign’s top staff to breathe easier.
But whether it served as a vindication for Mark Penn’s poll-driven, policy emphasizing philosophy (he pointed out to me last night that there were a lot of “economy voters” going to the polls), or a victory for the faction within the campaign which had long advocated for Clinton to show a more personal side of herself, depended on who you spoke to.
Listening to Howard Wolfson after her she won last night, it was clear what side of the argument he fell on.
“The person we know is closer to the person the people of New Hampshire saw this week,” said Wolfson in the southern New Hampshire gym where Clinton had just delivered her victory speech.
“I think any candidate who comes out of this process tested by it comes out better for it. And I certainly think she has learned something over this last year.”
He continued, “They saw a little bit more of who she was. They saw somebody who was 15 points down in the polls, and like all the other candidates, exhausted—and finding at that moment a real reservoir of strength and the willingness and the ability to speak from the heart.”
“It’s a crucible of experience.”
He also said that the campaign had made up an “enormous amount of ground” in the last two days and said of Obama, “He certainly did expect to win. They’ve got to be disappointed.”